Sunday, July 27, 2003

Activists hurry to turn mansion
into arts center

For more than a year, Kennedy Heights community activists have been raising money for a down payment on the former mayor's mansion (and longtime Douglas Funeral Home) at 6546 Montgomery Road. Their goal: turn it into a community arts center.

"We've been giving all of our efforts, night and day," says arts center committee president Kathy Spoon. Last year they were granted $50,000 from the city; they've raised another $25,000, including $15,000 in pledges. They're about $25,000 away from the $100,000 needed to secure financing for the building. Their deadline: Aug. 15.

This isn't just about art, says Spoon, who owns a small marketing firm. This is about "determining (Kennedy Heights') fate along Montgomery Road."

The mansion, on 21/2 acres, is an historic holdout in a faded retail strip where some stores are vacant. The committee expresses concern that a developer will raze the mansion for another nondescript building and parking lot.

"The citizens of Kennedy Heights are determined to turn the Montgomery corridor around, one building at a time," says Mary Ray, who's been working on the project since the beginning.

The plan for the community arts center hasn't changed. Supporters still see galleries and gardens, public art projects, collaborations with neighborhood schools including after-school classes and summer art camp, new attention to streetscape and building design.

But time is running out. Ray invites anyone interested in the community arts center cause to contact her at 631-4278 (4ART).

The committee already has its next step planned. "We're going to have a huge preview party. Immediately," says Ray. "We want the neighborhood to be partners in this arts center, in transforming it from what it is to what it can be."

Sold out at NKU

Working at Northern Kentucky University's summer box office must be an easy job. Just answer the phone and say, "sold out."

Dracula: The Untold Story opening Thursday is already sold out, capping a successful season. Best way to find a ticket is to call (859) 572-5464 on the day of performance and hope for cancellations.

NKU's department of theater and dance has announced its 2003-04 season: The Crucible, Oct. 2-12; Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Oct. 30-Nov. 9; Lucky Stiff, Dec. 4-14; Jesus Christ Superstar, Feb. 19-29; Piece of My Heart, March 25-April 4; and The Imaginary Invalid, April 22-May 2.

Subscriptions are available, $50, $40 seniors, $25 students. Call the box office. They're probably delighted to have some tickets to sell.

Fishman's 'Gospel'

Ian Dahlman takes the title role of a Jewish wannabe gospel songwriter during the Civil Rights era in the Richard Oberacker-Michael Lazar The Gospel According to Fishman, getting a concert reading on Aug. 11 at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater to benefit New Voice Theater.

Fishman features lots of rafter-raisers. Helping to sing them will be supporting players Marcie Brooks, Joe Hornbaker, Tom Sanders, Kiva Leatherman and Ann Baker.

Call 241-7469 or visit the Aronoff Center box office for tickets.

Know does 'Banned'

Know news is good news: Know Theatre Tribe, which celebrated controversy in June with Corpus Christi, will present the free, hour-long touring show Banned: Suppressed Literature in September, in conjunction with Cincinnati Arts Association and coinciding with the American Library Association's Banned Books Week.

Banned will feature works of banned/challenged/censored poetry and prose including comments and perspective from authors and censors. Featured writers include Shel Silverstein, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsburg, Nikos Kazantzakis and Michael Wilhoite.

"The object is to bring to light the danger of silencing views that do not correspond with your own," says dramaturg/producer Jim Waldfogle.

Banned will be presented Sept. 25 at Gabriel's Corner as part of Enjoy the Arts' 20/20 celebration; Sept. 26 at Paramount's Kings Island; Sept. 27 and Oct. 3 at Aronoff Center's Weston Art Gallery and Oct. 4 at Xavier University Gallagher Student Center's Studio Theater. All performances are at 8 p.m.

Also in September, Know will debut an education series with Fight Club, a stage combat workshop for teenagers on Sunday afternoons led by stage combat choreographer (and Know artistic director) Matthew Pyle.

The course will explore the basics of hand-to-hand, knife, quarterstaff and found objects combat. Fight scenes will explore the symbolism, humor and art possible in stage combat.

Fight Club begins Sept. 7 with only 12 slots available. Call 300-5669.

Know goes summer Aug. 9 with A-KNOW-Ha!, "a tribal party, fundraiser and luau." Tickets $20, $15 with tribal costume or swimwear. Call the theater for reservations.

'Mattress' playing in Aurora

Fans of Showboat Majestic and LaComedia Dinner Theatre will find some of their favorite performers on stage this weekend and next in Once Upon a Mattress at Ohio Indiana Northern Kentucky Regional Productions in Aurora, Ind.

The musical fractured fairytale version of The Princess and the Pea stars Middletown's Danita Wallace as Winnifred the Woebegone. (Wallace's husband Michael Scoggins plays Winnifred's prospective father-in-law, Sextimus.)

Elaine Wilson plays Queen Aggravain. Other familiar faces include Linda Dew, Michael Liles and Charles Goetz.

Watch for University of Cincinnati senior (and School for Creative and Performing Arts grad) Jonathan Emmons as the Jester. A dance major, his onstage duties include performing the show's dream ballet.

Mattress plays tonight and Thursday-Sunday at South Dearborn High School Auditorium. Advance tickets $10; at door $12. Call (800) 322-8198 or (812) 537-0814. Aurora is 40 minutes from downtown Cincinnati.


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